10 Best Cartoon Theme Songs, By Rank

With season 14 of Sponge Bob SquarePants announced and even The pink Panther and my godparents are magic Getting a new movie and spinoff this year, the iconic cartoon characters that have dominated television screens for decades continue to prove their appeal. One of the things that made these characters iconic in the first place, however, was the amazing theme songs that came with them.

A catchy theme can help make the difference between a memorable character and one that will be forgotten later. It’s no coincidence that some of the most iconic cartoon characters have the best cartoon themes and fans on private soldier have voted by the thousands to determine which is the best of them all.


ten SpongeBob SquarePants (1999)

Mr. Krabs insults SpongeBob in My Pretty Seahorse from SpongeBob SquarePants

A sea shanty full of that incredible character who has entered every episode of the series, the Sponge Bob SquarePants theme song is a winner. The genius of Spongebob theme song is that its call and response format gives a part that kids (or adults) can easily sing along with each episode.

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As a result, it’s become the kind of earworm that many viewers find themselves humming along to even long after they’ve stopped thinking about the show itself. Patrick Pinney provides the voice of Painty the Pirate as the simple lyrics pretty much capture everything the viewer needs to know about the show.

9 Inspector Gadget (1983)

Inspector Gadget holding poles to activate his helicopter hat

The Inspector Gadget The theme immediately grabs the viewer’s intent with a police siren and an unusual level of drama for a cartoon theme song. It then gives way to a synth-laden melody that’s as strikingly ’80s as it is incredibly catchy. Based on Edvard Grieg’s “In The Hall of the Mountain King”, the song exudes tension and subterfuge.

Composed by Shuki Levy, who also wrote themes for Power Rangers and Digimon, the song also gets one thing crucial, and that is that it’s fun to listen to. Like the cyborg, gadget-wielding protagonist, the music has an awkwardness that tells the audience that something is going to go wrong sooner or later.

8 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987–1996)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had a strong claim to awesomeness in the 1980s and their theme song made the case for them. Opening with a dramatic guitar chord, the song describes just a few of the Turtles’ exploits. Between each line, however, the singer shouts the words “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” meaning that’s the only part most viewers are likely to remember.

Luckily, that’s all they really need to remember to enjoy a theme that pulls out all the stops as all four band members pose spectacularly in the background. Composed by Chuck Lorre, who is best known as a producer of shows such as The Big Bang Theory and two and a half menthe song is the perfect level of cheese.

seven The Fairly Odd Parents (2001)

pretty weird parents

One of the boldest choices of the new my godparents are magic derivative series, Kind of weird, changed the original Fairly Odd Parents theme song. The lyrics of the original are more or less the perfect summary of one of Nickelodeon’s best cartoons, including Vicky being malevolent and Timmy’s wishes to Cosmo and Wanda spiraling out of control.

What really sells the song and the show, however, is the jazz that sets it apart from other cartoon themes. Although the style is old fashioned, it comes with an infectious sense of energy that makes it hard not to sing along and reflects a cartoon that is absolutely full of amazing music.

6 Animaniacs (1993)

Any song composed by Richard Stone, who provided the music for countless Warner Bros. shows, including looney tunes in the 90s, has a great chance of being a classic and the Animaniacs the theme is no exception. It’s a high-spirited theme that exemplifies the chaotic energy of the Warner siblings and the show itself.

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It’s also the perfect theme as it includes some of the slightly more offbeat humor that’s a big part of why the show has become so popular, including jokes poking fun at the show itself and its lack of clear form. Although the recent revival makes some changes to the theme song, most of them hold up so well that they didn’t have to.

5 Duck Tales (1987)

The cast of Ducktales looking around a forest

Funny, elegant and typically 80s, the duck tales The theme is a huge source of nostalgia even for people who have never watched the show. Jeff Pescetto provides the perfect vocals for the theme song to one of the best Saturday morning cartoons ever made, making the adventures of Huey, Dewey and Louie Duck far more dramatic than they really are.

This is because the best part of the theme is how well it is played. It’s no surprise that the song was written by a bona fide pop hitmaker in the form of Mark Mueller, as it has the feel of an incredibly fun pop song that just happens to be about a few ducks. With a very charismatic bassline, it’s almost too good to be a theme song.

4 The Pink Panther (1993)

Pink Panther in the 1993 edition of the show

Composed by film music legend and multiple Oscar winner Henry Mancini, the original Pink Panther the theme was moving, mysterious, and could easily have complemented a serious drama rather than a comedy. When used for the Pink Panther show in the late ’60s, it immediately became one of the best TV show themes ever made.

There’s no way to improve on a masterpiece, so instead, for the 1993 edition of the show, they just kicked the energy up a notch and made everything a bit more modern. Fast-paced and adding even more over-the-top drama towards the end, the theme reflected the show’s intention to make the Pink Panther cool again and it did just that.

3 The Flintstones (1960)

Although the first two seasons of The Flintstones had a nice enough theme in the form of “Rise and Shine”, it’s easy to imagine the show’s theme would have been largely forgotten if it hadn’t been changed to the iconic “Meet the Flintstones”. Performed by the Randy Van Horne Singers, who were the voice of a number of Hanna-Barbera cartoons, the new theme was an instant classic.

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Introducing the Flintstones family with clever lyrics that gently poke fun at the show’s premise and central family, the theme is a joyful expression of the fun found in Bedrock. The song promises the viewer that they will have a great time with the Flintstones family, but for anyone who has watched the cartoons, just hearing the song is a fun and nostalgic moment in itself.

2 Phineas and Ferb (2007)

Classic, jazzy theme songs might be fine for older viewers, but for Disney XD’s young audience, something a little cooler and more modern is in order. Phineas and Ferb enlisted rock band Bowling for Soup to create the show’s theme about stepbrothers and their overly ambitious summer plans and it turned out to be a perfect fit.

“Today is going to be a great day” is also full of good jokes that make the show work so well. With the song promising they’ll be able to do whatever they want when there’s absolutely no way they could and Candace joining in at the end to call mom on them, it’s more or less the perfect illustration of what’s great about Phineas and Ferb.

1 Scooby-Doo, where are you? (1969)

The Mystery Gang catches a ghost in Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!  (1969-1978)

There aren’t many shows where just saying the title is enough to conjure up the theme song, but that’s how catchy the song is. Scooby-Doo, where are you? theme is. Despite being created during the height of the Hanna-Barbera era, the theme manages to sound completely unique and timeless, even compared to shows like The Flintstones.

Originally performed by Larry Marks, the theme’s relaxed vocals reflect the tone of the series as only the characters are meant to be scared off by the hilarious villains of the Scooby-Doo series, not the viewer. It’s easy to see how well it worked in Scooby-Doo, where are you?‘s favor because the show, like the song, went down in history as one of the world’s favorites.

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Grace D. Erickson